Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
By Ben Fountain
Ecco, Hardcover, 9780060885588, 240pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
List Price: $24.95*
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The well-intentioned protagonists of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are caught -- to both disastrous and hilarious effect -- in the maelstrom of political and social upheaval surrounding them. In "Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera," an ornithologist being held hostage in the Colombian rain forest finds that he respects his captors for their commitment to a cause, until he realizes that the Revolution looks a lot like big business. In "The Good Ones Are Already Taken," the wife of a Special Forces officer battles a Haitian voodoo goddess with whom her husband is carrying on a not-entirely-spiritual relationship. And in "The Lion's Mouth," a disillusioned aid worker makes a Faustian bargain to become a diamond smuggler for the greater good. With masterful pacing and a robust sense of the absurd, each story in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara is a self-contained adventure, steeped in the heady mix of tragedy and danger, excitement and hope, that characterizes countries in transition.
Through Fountain's rounded and novelistic prose, these intelligent and keenly observed stories are painted in provocative and vibrant detail across a global canvas. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara marks the arrival of a striking and resonant new voice that speaks adeptly to the intimate connection between the foreign, the familiar, and the inescapably human.
"An impeccable debut collection; if Fountain can keep it up, he's an heir to Paul Theroux."
"Ben Fountain takes readers all over the world, navigating the alleys of the human soul with an expert's hand."
-The California Aggie
"[Fountain] is a gifted storyteller and his collection will blow your literary socks off."
". . .grand. . . darkly funny. . . important as anything you will see on the nightly news."
-Deseret Morning News
"[Fountain's] really a bright light on character in extreme conditions."
-Will Blythe, The News and Observer
"The work of a talented writer pursuing compelling and complicated themes."
"... Fountain['s]excursions into foreign infernos have an innocence all their own."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
"He imbues each narrative with an understanding of international politics and conflicts, and the sticky moral complexities involved."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
"...exceptional story collection..."
-New York Times Book Review
"An exceptional story collection. . . Heartbreaking, absurd, deftly drawn. . ."
-New York Times Book Review
"An impressive and entertaining book of short stories..."
"Fountain... is the perfect author to convert people who don't read short stories."
".exceptional story collection."
-Raleigh News & Observer
"Exhilarating first story collection."
-New York Newsday
"Fountain is a writer to watch; better, a writer to read."
"Ben Fountain writes deftly about fear and disorientation abroad in his first story collection."
"Ben Fountain...blew me out of the water. These stories are absolutely jaw-dropping."
-Audrey Bullar, team leader, Jospeh-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio, for PW's Galley Talk
"Short-story collections don't come much better than this. Brief Encounters With Che Guevara offers pointed prose, nimble revelation..."
" ...the ambition and global outlook of Fountain's fiction marks a welcome addition to the literature produced in our state."
"Ben Fountain writes the kind of stories that Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene used to write."
-Dallas Morning News
"It is such an unexpected joy, in this age of introspection, to discover an American writer with a global outlook."
-Jim Crace, author of Genesis and Being Dead
"[A] brilliant...exhilarating book, filled with heavenly language and insight."
-Tom Bissell, author of Chasing the Sea and God Lives in St. Petersburg
"Ben Fountain writes the kind of stories that Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene used to write...
-San Diego Union-Tribune
"Superb debut story collection... Fountain knows the Third World; he [writes] with a precision that suggests firsthand knowledge."
" ... Fountain chooses just the right details, metaphors, similes and descriptions...life rendered in sentences seem[s] as life lived."
-San Francisco Chronicle
". . .finely crafted. . . irony abounds in Fountain's mini-theaters of the absurd."
"Wildly plotted, astutely observed, and beautifully rendered."
-Daivd Means, author of Assorted Fire Events and The Secret Goldfish
"Fountain has the storytelling gifts to bring the world home to us and a moral compass set to true north."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan
"Fountain's confidence in taking on real world problems is matched by his reluctance to pontificate or judge."
-Nell Freudenberger, author of The Dissident
"... an author with a gift for reaching into the past and producing something compelling and new."
"In this first collection the author brings the virtuosity of Greene and le Carre to tales of foreign adventures."
"...an author with a gift for reaching into the past and producing something compelling and new."
-Los Angeles Book Review
"Fountain ... gets his message across without forsaking characterization and vivid descriptiveness. . .a revealing view of the human condition."
"...Fountain's stories reach for a broader engagement...This book is a step in the right direction."
-Boston Sunday Globe
". . .wonderful. . .lush, sophisticated...very funny. . .Fountain is an original..."